Om Open Badges och the 2015 Horizon Scandinavia Project

Förra månaden deltog jag i framtagningen av 2015 NMC Technology Outlook for Scandinavian Schools, en del av NMC (New Media Consortium) Horizon Project. Rapporten i sin helhet släpps i samband med årets BETT-mässa och jag känner att det kommer finnas stor anledning att återkomma till den då, i synnerhet för att jag inte är helt färdig med hur jag ser på själva processen. I väntan på rapporten tänker jag dela med mig av frågorna som fick mig att sälja följande om Open Badges.


”Badges are a mechanism to award incentives, progress indicators, and micro-credits. Badging draws on longstanding ways learning has been documented in other settings, such as the personal skills and achievement when a Boy or Girl Scout earns a merit badge. The approach is being used in learning environments like the Khan Academy, with promising results — people watch videos on specific subjects and earn new badges by doing so. Mozilla has published an open specification for badging — the Open Badge Initiative (OBI) — that enables providers and users alike to easily display their achievements on the web. Badges can be used as a way to incorporate some of the advantages of game mechanics as participants work through various levels or stages to achieve credentials. While badges are not by any means pervasive in education systems, they appeal to many educators because they are considered to be a credible alternative for measuring knowledge comprehension and skill acquisition in a very granular way, as compared to standard tests, grades, or the venerable credit hour.”

(1) How might this technology be relevant to the educational sector you know best?

  • I think relevance is in the opportunity for badges to function as connectors between informal and formal learning. Young people experience learning in a wide range of environments and although they might still be very different in nature, all kinds of learning is relevant to the individual and individuals matter to educational institutions, which is why badges/micro-credits complement other (formal) means of assessment. sara.mortsell sara.mortsell 

(2) What themes are missing from the above description that you think are important?

  • One interesting aspect of badges is that they are not solely about measuring learning, but more importantly their function is to communicate learning. This occurs when badges manage to capture complex learning experience, for example where soft skills and technical achievements interplay. Complex learning might be extremely difficult for the learner to put into words and talk about, hence a visual representation of that experience, and an issuing or endorsing organisation/individual, communicates its value more easily to others. On a similar note, badges can communicate and visualize learning pathways of experienced learners, spurring new learning which otherwise might be concealed to beginners. sara.mortsell sara.mortsell 

(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on teaching, learning, or creative inquiry?

  • Like any assessment och measuring tool, it is important to remember badges are only representations of learning, and as such psychometric issues are introduced. When badges, quite rightly, are questioned on its validity, the same questions can be posed for standardized assessment and all kinds of testing in the educational environment. We can expect that these kinds of critical questions might have some impact on the overall role of assessments in the education system and how results from these assessments are used to legitimize educational reform and discourse. sara.mortsell sara.mortsell 
  • Alternative assessments influence what ”counts as learning”. For a young person, this can mean that out of school activities are acknowledged as learning and specific in school projects may be recognized in ways meaningful to out of school activities, or even bear meaning later in life. This is where badges can bridge the divide between informal and formal learning so that we get enhancement rather than competition. Diversity in assessment has the potential to recognize and empower new groups of students and learners. sara.mortsell sara.mortsell
  • Open badges can be designed to rely on peer-to-peer assessment in the award process, i.e when deciding whether the earner has met the criteria, which has a high level learner involvement compared to badges automatically being awarded from clicking multiple choice tests. Badges can also be awarded to joint projects and celebrate collaborative efforts, and of course, anyone can create badges so perhaps learners creating badges to capture their own learning has the most potential? And teachers and students are learners alike.sara.mortsell sara.mortsell 

(4) Do you have or know of a project working in this area?

 Featured image derived from r. nial bradshaw, cc by via Flickr.